Dorset invests £9.3m in rural connectivity for community buildings

Dozens of community buildings across rural north Dorset are to be connected to next generation, gigabit-capable broadband thanks to a Getting Building Fund allocation from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

60 community sites, including schools, community centres, a health centre, council depots, farms and adult social care residential homes will be connected to gigabit broadband by March 2022.

“It will mean some of our most rural areas, that would never be covered commercially, will be able to access the next generation of gigabit capable broadband,” said Dorset Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Peter Wharf. “This is not only good news for the community organisations, all of which provide vital services, but also to the surrounding residents and business who will now have greater access to full-fibre infrastructure.”

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“Digital connectivity has been instrumental in helping our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be vital in our recovery. Our Local Industrial Strategy for Dorset states that by 2030 we will lead a digital and cultural transformation across all communities and projects such as this will help fulfil that ambition,” added Lorna Carver, Dorset LEP Director. “This investment will bring much-needed improvement to broadband speeds in some of Dorset’s most rural areas, greatly benefitting the local economy.”

Following a competitive tender process, Blandford-based Wessex Internet has been awarded the contract to deliver full-fibre to these community buildings.

Building the network to these sites will bring many thousands of homes and businesses within reach of the new network.  Residents and businesses in these areas will be eligible for further subsidy through gigabit vouchers funded by Government, Dorset Council and the Dorset LEP to offset the costs of installing full-fibre.

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